Any Photography Experts Out There?

Decorating By BakingGirl Updated 13 Jun 2008 , 1:46pm by BakingGirl

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BakingGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:01am
post #1 of 21

I uploaded a picture today of my latest cake (diaper bag) and it really does not do it justice at all. It is really disappointing to send off a cake you are really pleased with just to find the picture highlighting every little flaw that I did not even see in the cake itself. In the picture it just looks like a big shapeless blob. The close-ups are just hideous. So the big question is, how do you take a picture which makes the cake look as good as possible?

Since I have started making cakes I have gradually become more aware of making sure I don't have pots and pans in the background distracting from the cake, I have started using a black velvet backdrop which makes the cake stand our more and I try to use natural light if I can as I find the flash picking up on shiny spots.

I make cakes for friends and as gifts for the specific purpose of building up a cake portfolio for when I am able to start up a business, so these pictures are important to me. Can anyone give me any pointers on how to take really good pictures.

20 replies
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Shola Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:13am
post #2 of 21

I'm no expert but I find with my digital camera that if I have a well lit room I can turn the flash off and I get a much better picture, only drawback you really need a steady hand as for some reason no flash equals easily blurred pic if you move, also I have 'Paint Shop Pro' on my PC, a good photo program can make even the crappiest pic look fab with just a few alterations! And you don't need to be an expert to use them!
I have one setting which is called 'One step photo fix' and it works wonders! icon_biggrin.gif

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BakingGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:18am
post #3 of 21

That program sounds great Shola. I use computers every day but I never seem to get past the most basic of features. I use a Mac at home so not sure if I can use the program you mention.

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JenWhitlock Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:25am
post #4 of 21

I'm no expert either
but lighting is really important.
I would say experiment, experiment, experiment.

try different settings on your camera.
I had taken a bunch of so-so photos when I found out my camera had an 'indoors' setting - this helped color and noise a lot!

also try a lot of different angles. I'm usually surprised at which one I end up liking after looking at them on the computer.
but when you are looking at your cake think about what is the most interesting and flattering element? the side? the top.
note how some times a close top down photo looks great, and sometimes a side shot really highlights well.

finally, photoshop is great.
I can adjust sharpness, noise, color balance, and blur out anything I don't want in the background.

good luck!

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BakingGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:36am
post #5 of 21

Thanks Jen, you are right about the angles. I find it difficult to get good angles to take pictures. More to do with the location I photograph the cakes than anything else. I always end up with something else in the picture when I try to get too creative. Maybe I should investigate these photo shop type programs.

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JenWhitlock Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 11:52am
post #6 of 21

I don't have a good spot to take photos either.
but I try to have the plainest background available... kitchen table and curtains the the back.
then in photoshop I clean up anything extranious. you can use a 'clone brush' to duplicate a texture over another...useful for for removing objects.
you can also use the 'magic wand' to select all colors within a certain band to erase certain background colors or areas...
good luck!

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andromedaslove Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 12:50pm
post #7 of 21

I am by no means an expert, just a hobbyist with a professional camera, so here's my opinion for what it's worth.

It seems to me that the biggest problem with your photo of the diaper bag cake was the background itself. You used a black background for a dark colored cake, and it kind of blended in. You can't really see the edges of the bag because they are so close in color to the black background. Does that make any sense? Other than that I think the picture turned out very well.


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JenWhitlock Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:15pm
post #8 of 21

sorry, I didn't look at the photo earlier...
I agree, I white/light background might have been better.
also, I think that you might have shot it more from the front so that the round top wasn't as prominant, and it might have drawn more attention to the wonderful details in the dark bag....

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norma20 Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:15pm
post #9 of 21

There is a great and very simple way to take nice pictures.
You probably have in your back or front yard a nice place to use as background for your cakes. It should be done early in the morning, or in a cloudy day.
It's a must that there is NO SUN AT ALL.
Yesterday morning, I took my dummy cake to the backyard (again, no sun) and my husband took the picture.

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BakingGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:20pm
post #10 of 21

Thanks everyone for your input. It has been really helpful! Actually, it never even dawned on me that the black background on the dark colored bag would cause a problem. And I did not recognize it as the problem when looking at the picture, all I could focus on was the lack of shape. Thank you so much for pointing it out to me, you really hit the nail on the head there. I am going out today to buy some more back drop cloths in some more colors so that I have more to choose from. What would I do without you geniuses?

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norma20 Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:27pm
post #11 of 21

One more tip:
Be very careful with your background. Avoid fences, toys, electric boxes, AC machines, ugly things, etc.
Nice things for background are trees, plants, flowers, lakes, etc.
Again, when the picture is taken outside is very important that you have a smooth and natural light. Again, no bright sunlight. Cloudy day is perfect.

For pictures inside the house is necessary to have an adequate background, studio lights and experience.
Hope it helps!

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BakingGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:30pm
post #12 of 21

norma20, love your background. Unfortunately my back yard is not quite that lush so not sure how lovely it would look if I did it here. Unless it is a dummy I would not be able to photograph outside. The humidity (all year here) would just melt the fondant instantly, it is such a drag. Every time I have to take a cake anywhere I run lightening speed from the house to a pre-air conditioned car to avoid the humidity issue.

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norma20 Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:43pm
post #13 of 21

Well, the truth is that my husband aimed the camera to my neighbor backyard...
I live in Florida and the humidity here is horrible too!
It is possible to take pictures of real cakes outside. Keep your cake in the fridge, set a small table outside, take the camera, the last thing will be the cake. It's fast.
You don't need to have a nice backyard, I have another pictures that shows only some bushes on the back, and they look great.

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ladyonzlake Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:48pm
post #14 of 21

I use a digital camera and take tons of pictures with flash, without flash, different angles, close up...I even get up on a chair and take it from an angle up high. I move my cakes around the house for different lighting, turn light on, turn lights off, move the cake outside if it's an overcast day...ect...I make sure there's nothing around it or behind it.

Once I pick a picture I like I use Adobe Photoshop elements and adjust the lighting, then I pick a color for the background to make a solid background color that compliments it.

I also have a small photo tent that I purchased off of Ebay and I do use that sometimes too.

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ladyonzlake Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 1:49pm
post #15 of 21

Oh, I forgot to add that sometimes I'll set a tri-fold board behind my cake for photos as well.

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bjfranco Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:01pm
post #16 of 21

You may want to consider setting your camera on portrait setting. This will put all the focus on the object you are focusing on and "soft focus" things far away in the distance. If you are taking the picture straight on to the cake with flash bouncing off the cake you will get a washed out look (which is sometimes good for smoothing out the look of white buttercream) or a harsh look. I agree with everyone else as well as you want a common background, common colors, nothing distracting. Black on black is good if you have over head lighting to highlight the edges of the black object.

By the way.......fantastic cake. Thought the cake and the picture was great. (love the little shoes) We are our own worst critics when it come to our cakes and believe me people do not see the same things we are seeing when they look at our cakes are pics of them.

bj icon_wink.gif

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FromScratch Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 2:25pm
post #17 of 21

The best thing you can do for your pictures if you have a regular point and shoot digital camera is to get an inexpensive tripod and turn off your flash. Find the biggest window in yoru house and set up in front of that window when the sun isn't glaring through it. I usually take pictures of my cakes in front of my french doors. Clear away any clutter.. get a back drop (be it a big sheet of paper or a sheet) and take some pictures. You have to get to know your camera. I am a hobbyist in the photography world, but I have a DSLR and I love it. I have the Canon Digital Rebel XTi and a 50mm lens. But I also have a PowerShot point and shoot and can get decent pictures from that too. The on camera flash is very harsh.. if you can avoid using it you should. Unless you can bouce the flash off of something (which is next to impossible with an on camera flash) it's pretty useless IMHO.

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AJsGirl Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 5:28pm
post #18 of 21

My husband shoots as a hobby, and when he's in a pinch, he covers the flash with parchment paper! It acts as a diffuser to spread out the light, softens the flash, and helps get rid of shadows. You wouldn't believe what a difference it makes!

Parchment paper, it's not just for caking anymore. icon_smile.gif

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FromScratch Posted 12 Jun 2008 , 9:11pm
post #19 of 21

oooh.. that's a good idea. WTG hubby! You can use bubble wrap too..

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nesweetcake Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 12:07am
post #20 of 21

I had background trouble too! I purchased a foam core board that
is used for presentations that folds two smallers sides into the larger
back, It's white and they come in black too. It has made a difference
in my photos and cost around $8 or so on sale at Hobby/craft store.

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BakingGirl Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 1:46pm
post #21 of 21

So many great hints and tips here. I need to make some more cakes now so I can practice photographing them. I often find that I finish a cake late at night ready for delivery first thing in the morning, so I am always rushing the photography. Obviously not a good idea.

jkalman, I use a PowerShot point and shoot. My husband also have DSLR but I am too intimidated by all the buttons so I generally don't use it. Most of the time I find the pictures from the PowerShot turn out better, probably because I am not using the features of the DSLR properly. Maybe it is time to get out the manual?

I like the portrait button idea. I will definitively try that.

Parchment paper and bubble wrap on the flash! Very inventive techniques. But I guess if it works, why not?

I wish I lived somewhere a bit bigger. I have seen the tri-fold display backdrops in regular card and only in white. I used that for a while. If I could get one in black it would be great. I like the tri-fold as it takes care of the sides too. Maybe I can ask one of the shops if they can order one in for me.

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